Coho harvests still coming from gillnet fishery

Coghill drift gillnetters making dozens of deliveries to processors

Coho harvests in Prince William Sound rose to 497,000 fish this week as drift gillnetters in the Coghill district made dozens of deliveries, and the Sound’s overall preliminary wild salmon deliveries hit 55.8 million fish.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Cordova office opened the Coghill District for an 84-hour driftnet fishing period on Sept. 17 in the wake of a 60-hour period that opened on Sept. 12, while the purse seine fisheries remained closed. The average weight of cohos caught in the 27th period, the most recent of the fishery, was 11.4 pounds, compared to 6.1 pounds for sockeyes, according to ADF&G data.

Other preliminary data from ADF&G shows the Sound’s commercial catch through Sept. 17 to include 47.4 million pink, 5.3 million keta, 2.5 million sockeye and 18,000 Chinook salmon.

Statewide through this week the commercial catch of Alaska’s wild salmon reached 200 million fish, including 124.4 million pink, 55.3 million sockeye, 17.1 million keta, 3.3 million coho and 255,000 Chinook salmon. 

Through last week, the state produced at least one million salmon for 13 consecutive weeks, notes Garrett Evridge of the McDowell Group, who produces weekly updates on Alaska’s wild salmon commercial harvest in season on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Historically, an average of 800,000 additional salmon typically are harvested between now and the end of the season, in about three weeks, Evridge said.

Year-to-date sockeye harvests, at just over 55 million fish included the addition last week of another 50,000 red salmon, mostly in Kodiak.

Year-to-date pink salmon harvests of over 124 million fish stands at about 7 percent or 10 million lower than in 2017, 34 percent behind 2015 and 45 percent lower than 2013. The roughly 400,000 pinks harvested last week were nearly all in Kodiak.

Keta volume so far, just over 17 million fish, is about 25 million or 13 percent below that of 2018. Evridge notes that although the current harvest is just 58 percent of the ADF&G forecast that the 2019 season is still comparable to the five-year average. Most of the 280,000 keta delivered to processors last week came from Southeast Alaska harvesters.

The addition of some 130,000 coho last week statewide brought the year-to-date total to nearly 3.3 million fish, or 8 percent behind the 2018 pace. Coho account for at least half of total production in the final weeks of most Alaska salmon seasons, and historical data suggests most of the remaining coho catch will come from Southeast Alaska, he said.